Are you a thief?
Integrate Asteya and Aparigraha In Your Life.
In yoga we often speak about the Yamas. The yamas are social ethical principles. They include non-stealing, non-greed and non-hoarding, in yogic terms: Asteya and Aparigraha. Let’s dive into the meaning of Asteya and Aparigraha and learn how to integrate them in your daily life.
A couple of weeks ago, my friend Paula posted a quote on Instagram that touched my soul.
“You say you love your children above all else and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”
Paula spoke about ‘Asteya’. Asteya means non-stealing. Non-stealing means not taking anything that doesn’t belong to you. To take only what’s necessary, even when it’s free. I believe it goes hand in hand with ‘Aparigraha’. Aparigraha teaches us non-hoarding, non-greed and non-attachment. In other words, to share and give to others.
Are you guilty of neglecting Asteya and Aparigraha?
You might think you never steal. You probably don’t do it intentionally anyway. But non-stealing refers to everything in life. We steal time, food, energy, confidence and feelings. We steal to fill up emptiness in our bodies and souls. In yoga we practise for ‘union’. We aim to connect to a deeper meaning to fill the gaps we experience within ourselves, and share this with others.
‘When was the last time you stole something?’ ‘Do you take more than you need?’
Stealing from yourself
When you practise yoga asana, do you go beyond a healthy boundary? Do you push yourself to the max? Do you tell yourself you’re not good enough, you must gain flexibility, become stronger or that you’re not doing it right? This also is stealing. You’re stealing from your experience in the present moment. Your confidence and ability to allow and accept yourself for who you are, right now.
Stealing from others
Think of a time you were late for class or a meeting. You came in out of breath, puffing and groaning about the traffic, apologised, but still disturbed the peace in the room. And, took away focus and stole time from the person or people involved.
You get the picture. I don’t want to blame you or call you a thief. We’re all guilty of this and although it’s very often accepted, I do think it’s a good thing to create more awareness of how we steal from ourselves, our loved ones and our surroundings.
Whenever we think about ‘The Ways We Love’, we generally think of the relationships we have with our loved ones, but where I’d like to start today is your relationship with nature.
We’re all connected
Remember the quote I wrote at the start: “You say you love your children above all else and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”
Loving your loved ones even more deeply starts with Mother Earth: all of our oceans, beaches, woods and forests, the countryside, all sea creatures, animals and wildlife.
When looking at nature, we see how everything is connected. All species work together as a big family and rely on each other. Trees for example are connected through underground networks. They share their water and nutrients through these networks, and also use them to communicate. They are so deeply connected that when a tree is stressed or malnourished, the other trees send them extra supplies.
We, just as all other species, rely on our relationship with trees. Trees release oxygen, helping us breathe. Just what you focus on in your yoga class. Trees are used for the production of (toilet) paper, cork, medicines, sponges, hair dye, rubber and even chocolate, just to name a few.
Practise Asteya & Aparigraha: take care of each other
In 2021, global warming, plastic and air pollution, agricultural emissions, extinction and other environmental issues are probably not new to you. Yet, when speaking about these topics, a lot of us tend to look the other way and change the conversation. I’m not going to lie, didn’t used to be a big fan either. But I believe that not addressing these topics is purely because we don’t know enough about them.
It’s very hard to stay up to date with all the news that we’re being exposed to. It’s even harder to choose what’s true and trustworthy. I can’t decide for you, but I believe that you’re very capable of doing your own research and understanding what you could change to practise Asteya & Aparigraha and live a more sustainable lifestyle for you, for the planet and for others. If you think of the people you love and your relationships with them, I reckon you’d like them to have the resources they need to be healthy.
By taking care of your surroundings for example the paper, water, food and materials you use, and managing how much of them you use, you help preserve resources and a healthy planet. By doing this, you care actively not only for yourself, but also for your children, your loved ones and their children.
This is where I stop my speech about caring for the environment and practising Asteya and Aparigraha, but if you’d like to get into this topic I’ve referred to some resources below.
Resources to dive into:
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
A shocking documentary about environmental matters, sustainable production and how the government and big companies such as Greenpeace hide the biggest issues.
If I had to choose one reason I’d consume a whole food or vegan diet, this would be mine.
An incredible documentary about the effects and consequences of climate change including extreme drought that led South Africa to take extreme measures we could all learn from.
Declutter your life from your home to your relationships. Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus help others to truly let go of what you don’t need and focus on life’s most important aspects.
An organisation that focuses on improvement of the well-being of people and nature through sustainable partnership and combining science and technology that enable people and nature to thrive.
Clean out your space. Pay respect to your belongings, give what you no longer need a second chance by giving it away. End up with a spacious house, room, and/or closet.
Sustainable, high quality toilet paper made from bamboo that doesn’t only save trees, but also protects your skin, health and well-being.
Practising Asteya & Aparigraha
Book 2: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Want to learn more about the Yamas and The Ways We Love? Go to our online school.